I am starting the first full week at my new Crystal Lake, IL office (407 E Congress Parkway, Suite E), so I thought I would take this opportunity to start regular blog posts. I am going to use this blog to share tidbits of legal knowledge and information that readers might find informative, interesting, or fun. Today, I’d like to share something fun.
As most readers are aware, we are locked in a battle for the nomination of a Supreme Court justice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. I won’t dive into the politics here, but would like to share a Supreme Court battle of even more interest and importance…
It’s 1800 (ish) and the battle between Federalists (favoring a strong central government) and Anti-Federalists (favoring a weak central government and strong state governments) is raging. Outgoing president, John Adams (a Federalist), has an opportunity to make several federal judicial appointments. He appoints 42 new judges and the Senate confirms each the day before the inauguration of incoming president, Thomas Jefferson (an Anti-Federalist). The U.S. Mail system wasn’t quite what it is today and several of President Adams’ judicial commissions didn’t get to the intended recipients. President Jefferson moved quickly and instructed his Secretary of State, James Madison, to halt any commissions not yet received by Adams’ appointments.
William Marbury didn’t get his intended commission and sues in the U.S. Supreme Court. After a lot of complicated lawyer-speak, the Supreme Court created a new power – judicial review. Judicial review means that courts can determine the constitutionality of legislation. This may not sound weird nowadays, but this is the first time courts had the power to invalidate congressional action. This resulted in a Supreme Court with much more authority than was probably intended.
Also, Marbury lost.